Album of the Year Posted June 03, 2021 By KevinDavis_NRT, Staff Reviewer
What You Need to Know 21 year-old Riley Clemmons’ self-titled debut album Riley Clemmons includes the hit singles, “Broken Prayers” and “Better For It” and it was one of my Top 10 Albums of the Decade. Clemmons followed that up with her hit singles, “Fighting For Me,” “Over and Over,” “Healing” and her newest single, “Keep on Hoping." With comparisons to contemporaries ranging from Kelly Clarkson and Demi Lovato to Natalie Grant and Britt Nicole, Clemmons’ seemingly effortless, rich and pure vocal tone exhibits the passion and confidence of a seasoned artist. Riley’s songwriting is real, honest, and vulnerable, and she is positive, determined, and confident.
What it Sounds Like Godsend features an empowering theme of the Lord reigning in our hearts and minds in song after song and how we are reminded that the Lord's glory, His strength, is found in our weakness. Opening song “Healing” celebrates that truth. These lyrics are totally encouraging: “Gave myself some grace/And my soul began to feel the change/I let love flood my heart/Like the sun upon a tear-stained face.” Hit song “Over and Over” also declares the thesis statement of the album, "You keep running to me/No matter where I am/Over and over again.” The album gives listeners words to “Keep on Hoping” with declarations like, "There’s hope for a better tomorrow/There’s hope for joy over sorrow/Cause God’s still good/And He’s still got it all in control.”
Spiritual Highlights Riley has impressed me with her mature faith and sincere desire to serve Jesus. We’ve spoken for a behind the song devotional about “Fighting For Me” from this album and Riley wrote that song based on many scriptures where the Lord tells us “Do not be afraid,” including 2 Chronicles 20:17: "Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.” A sincere desire for God to take our thoughts captive is found in every song such as the declaration, “With all those voices in your head/Just don’t, don’t ever forget/That God’s still good and He’s still got it all in control“ in the standout, “Keep On Hoping.” Each of her songs are about proclaiming her dependence on God throughout this stellar offering. The album is designed to be listened to in track order as you’ll go on the journey with Riley from “Healing” with the confession-“I found strength through the pain/What was broken is standing again/And I’m healing,” to the standout “I’m Not Alone” with the declaration-”You are for me/Not against me/I call on Your Name/You silence the shame/You hear me, You’re with me/I know I’m not alone.”
Best Song on the Record I can’t get enough of “Godsend” and it sets the tone for the entire experience with the beautiful declaration of dependence in the chorus of God’s provision in our lives—“What if maybe every broken place I’ve been was a Godsend?” His love is never-ending, and He is our refuge and our strength. If you are looking for a firm foundation in your life, make these lyrics of “Fighting For Me” your personal prayer: “Cause You love me like nobody else, You stand up for me in the darkest night, when my faith is weak You’re still by my side, You will never stop fighting for me.” Faith is when we are empty of ourselves and are filled with Him and His Holy Spirit. This album is filled with moving prayers of thankfulness including the gorgeous “Over and Over.” You’ll be singing along, “I thought I was unlovable till You told this heart of mine, I’m worth more than my past mistakes, I’m never too far gone to save.”
Final Word Godsend is about proclaiming the majesty of God and crying out in awe and wonder for His Presence. All of the songs are memorable, personal and worshipful. These moving and reverent recordings are all prayers and personal confessions of submission to God and they are poignant songs of adoration. Every song is completely anointed, Spirit-led and emotionally captivating. Riley’s powerful and gorgeous vocals keep me hanging on every word she sings. She invites listeners into her life by sharing what's on her heart and relying on God’s grace in her edifying lyrics. The standout songs each feature an engaging and emotive musical style while phrasing her prayer-filled songs in a creative and personal way, making it my top album of the year.